One ‘jornada’ of the BBVA Liga completed, and the situation for the expected top two is as equal as at the same stage in 2008. However, this time round both Barcelona and Madrid have broken their duck early in their opening fixtures, in equally impressive fashion.
The European Super Cup and its ilk are only notable as a back-up plan should ‘real trophies’ not come a team’s way during the season proper (just ask Gerard Houlliér) and often serves as an irritant to teams ready to hit the ground running at the start of the campaign. The trip to Monaco had three big benefits for the Catalans, who took home the trophy in a fairly uninspiring contest against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Smallest of the three was the money-saving operation to ship out Eider Gudjohnsen, who did not require a return ticket from the principality. The Icelandic star never really made a big impression at the Nou Camp, and would probably have got even less playing time this season, but selling a capable back-up for a nominal fee may turn out to be an error when the story of 2009-10 is written.
Coming back with the azulgrana was Shakhtar Donetsk defender Dymytro Chgrynskiy, who became the team’s second-biggest signing of the summer and gave some badly needed defensive bolstering. Real Madrid’s big signings have repeated the top-heavy formula of the first ‘Galacticos’ era, so the Ukranian’s signing is a note of intent if nothing else – although the inflated transfer fee will mean little if he proves out of his depth in the more attacking Spanish league.
The Super Cup’s main benefit will be that they trailed Madrid when they took to the pitch on Monday night, the hunters rather than the hunted. The win against Sporting Gijon avoided the Numancia nightmare of last season, and got new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic off the mark early on. Running about and making some atypical build-up work marked an impressive debut for Samuel Eto’o’s replacement, following some pleasing news earlier in the day; the announcement that he will pit his skills against Eto’o and former employers Internazionale in the Champions League was made just before the game.
Barça face Getafe next Sunday in their second league fixture of the season.